Amnesty's new stand
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Political parties, religious denominations, labor unions and international organizations have slowly succumbed to a pro-abortion strategy to marginalize the most defenseless citizens of all in the name of those who are also suppressed, disenfranchised or discriminated against.
This spring came word that Amnesty International (AI), a well-known human-rights organization that not only has remained neutral on abortion, but has decried forced abortions in China, has now come out in support of abortion "rights."
How this unfolded was a classic bit of cultural warfare. AI was founded in Britain by a Catholic lawyer in 1961. It has won the Nobel Peace Prize and has garnered an international reputation for defending some of the planet's most persecuted individuals and groups. It has used its bully pulpit well and has managed to attract a great deal of international support, especially from religious groups.
On abortion, it held a neutral position: "AI takes no position on whether or not women have a right to choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies; there is no generally accepted right to abortion in international human-rights law."
But pressure to change its stance on abortion has been growing for years, and in 2005 word began to circulate that AI was looking to change its position of neutrality. Advocates were pressing AI to reverse this policy and support abortion rights.
In a classic case of doublespeak, a Canadian advocate for the new policy argued: "We're not saying with this proposal that abortion on demand is a woman's right, but we are saying a woman's human rights are violated if she is imprisoned or otherwise punished for seeking an abortion or helping someone else have one."
This past April the human-rights organization has adopted the new policy, claiming that it was a justified response to a "pandemic of violence against women."
Pro-life and religious groups have criticized the development, and Cardinal Renato Martino of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace told the National Catholic Register recently that Catholic organizations and individuals should withhold donations to the organization.
We second Cardinal Martino's call.
The United States and other governments should take more aggressive stands against those groups or nations that endorse violence against women or that use rape as a weapon of intimidation and oppression, as in Darfur.
But to make the unborn child the second victim of the violence against women is wrong, and AI's decision is lethally misguided. Endorsing the death sentence for one on behalf of another is the kind of totalitarian thinking that would normally be condemned by AI.
We encourage Catholics to make their complaints known to AI (www.amnesty.org) and to withhold their financial support, at least until the August international meeting of AI in Mexico City, when the organization has an opportunity to review its policy. Should AI continue on this terrible path, perhaps it will be time for another Catholic lawyer to start another organization to pick up AI's torch, aggressively defending the weak and defenseless - in the Middle East, in China, in Sudan and Ethiopia, on the world's death rows, and in the womb.
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